Club Brings a Weekly Ray of Sunshine

by Andrea Willoughby

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Sunshine Club at East Stewart GardensA North Lanarkshire Council-led initiative has been formed in conjunction with Bield to create a social club for older members of the local community.

Bield, Scotland’s leading provider of housing and care has jointly launched the ‘Sunshine Club’ at its East Stewart Gardens service every Friday afternoon, along with members of North Lanarkshire Council’s Social Inclusion team.

The new service aims to provide a weekly social event for Bield tenants, residents of council-owned sheltered housing and members of the local community, with the aim of providing a variety of entertaining events including bingo, dancing, singing and even exercise classes.

Originally a small gathering, the group has now seen increasing numbers every Friday thanks to increased incentives within the local community. Club members have been handing out flyers to the town’s residents while local shops and business have put up posters to spread awareness about The Sunshine Club.

Deputy Manager at East Stewart Gardens, Geri McAlinden said: “The results of reaching out to the community have been incredibly positive. It’s been amazing to see how The Sunshine Club has taken off and become an event older people both appreciate and look forward to.

“The club gives a much needed boost to our tenants and gives them a great outlet to socialise, meet new people and have fun in their older years.”

Onwards and Upwards

An increasingly popular venture, The Sunshine Club now has its own committee made up of Bield tenants and local community members to manage upcoming events and the group’s monetary funds.

Each meeting costs members just one pound which goes towards providing refreshments and the entertainment every Friday. At the end of each month, any additional money that has been raised is donated to a local charity or hospice to help those in need.

Sandra Basu, Locality Link Officer for North Lanarkshire Council, feels the initiative is something incredibly positive for the community.

She said: “The open invitation to join The Sunshine Club has created a society with far less socially isolated and lonely older people.

“Whether people are living in sheltered housing, or living alone within the outside community, Friday afternoons have become a great opportunity for people to socialise and enjoy new company.

“The group of older people involved in this project voted to choose their own name. I think the resulting ‘Sunshine Club’ speaks volumes about their feelings.”

The dedicated committee behind the club has organised events for the next six weeks. Highlights of The Sunshine Club calendar include a Marie Curie charity night, an upcoming Halloween fancy dress party and an afternoon tea event with a bric-a-brac auction.

Brian Logan, Bield’s Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to be able to host this club in one of our developments homes.  Together with the local council, I believe we have created a wonderful resource that serves to provide a highly enriching experience for all of those involved.

“Services like this epitomise our ‘Free to Be’ philosophy meaning that people in care can take control of their lives whilst being given the necessary support to do so.”

Bield – a registered charity – has grown from humble beginnings, starting out with one housing development in Bo’ness to become a major provider of a wide range of housing and services for around 20,000 older people across 22 local authority areas.

Private: Andrea Willoughby

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